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National Language Activities and Policies
J. David Edwards, Ph.D., Executive Director, JNCL-NCLIS
The Omnibus Spending bill which finally passed the 108th Congress increased spending for the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) by $1.3 million to $17.8 million; International Education and Foreign Language Studies in Higher Education to $106.8 million; and Civic Education to $29.4 million. Other federal programs of importance to languages were either level-funded or decreased slightly.
The 108th Congress considered eighteen bills that dealt with languages and international studies, but only enacted two: the Intelligence Reauthorization and Intelligence Reform bills which require the defense and intelligence communities to improve and increase their knowledge and use of languages.
The National Security Education Program (NSEP) was funded at its usual $8 million with $6 million more added for the National Flagship Language Initiative and $2 million to work with Heritage Languages.
The Administration's FY 2006 Budget Request again eliminates funding for FLAP, Star Schools, Civic Education, Javits, and a dozen other small federal programs that provide assistance to languages and international studies.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced H.R. 115, the National Security Language Act which will improve America's foreign language capabilities through the following initiatives: 1) Loan Forgiveness for Undergraduate Students in Foreign Languages Who Become Teachers or Federal Employees; 2) Science and Technology Advanced Foreign Language Grants; 3) ) International Flagship Language Initiative; and 4) Encouraging Early Foreign Language Study.
Senators Christopher Dodd and Thad Cochran will soon introduce the International and Foreign Language Studies Act of 2005 which reauthorizes Title VI of the Higher Education Act to include increased funding, greater outreach to the schools, increased study abroad opportunities, and greater use of technology.
On March 8, the House passed H. Res. 122 expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the study of languages and supporting the designation of a Year of Languages. Earlier this year, the Senate passed S. Res. 28 designating the year 2005 as the "Year of Foreign Language Study".
The National Security Education Program has issued a request for proposals and will hold meetings regarding the creation of a K-16 Chinese Language Project.
The Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Program has begun to hold meetings and seek input on this program, the vision of the late Senator Paul Simon, which would provide fellowships of up to $7,000 for 500,000 students to study abroad for a summer or school year.
Recently, the Department of Defense has released a momentous new "plan to overhaul military policy, doctrine, and organizations to improve the diversity of foreign languages spoken in the armed forces; enhance the proficiency of linguists; and create new sources of foreign language expertise outside the Defense Department" entitled the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap.
Detailed information on any and all of these developments can be obtained from the Joint National Committee for Languages and National Council for Languages and International Studies.